Poetry Translation Workshop at Smolenice Castle, Slovakia

  • Tom Pow and Alina Talybova
  • Poets from eight countries gather at Smolenice castle
  • Gabriel Rosenstock reading in Slovakia
  • Eva Luka by Pavel Kastl
    Eva Luka reading her poems
  • Tom Pow, Hilari de Cara at the translation workshop Slovakia 2012
    Tom Pow and Hilari de Cara, Slovakia translation workshop 2012
  • Tiziana Colusso working at Smolenice Castle workshop
    Tiziana Colusso working at Smolenice Castle workshop

(picture courtesy of the Congress Centre Smolenice website)

 LAF continued our international poetry translation workshop series with the Centre for Information on Literature in Slovakia with a workshop at Smolenice castle from the 7th-15th July 2012. 

 Eight poets: Tom Pow (Scotland), who lead the workshop, Tiziana Colusso (Italy),  Eva Luka (Slovakia), Hilari de Cara (Catalonia), Vishnu Khare (India), Artis Ostups (Latvia), Gabriel Rosenstock (Ireland) and Alina Talybova (Azerbaijan) spent a week working on the translations of each other’s poetry and encountering new literary contexts and poetic backgrounds.

  The poets performed at Gallery Artoteka in Bratislava with music from the Vogon Poetry Orchestra. 

 Tom Pow said “One of the strengths of the group was its willingness to question particular translation decisions, ones that it was felt did not reflect the original poem. Consequently, each translation might be changed as a result of group discussion. The group contained a wide variety of experiences within it and several practiced translators. Because of the make up of the group and the circumstances within which it operated – the beautiful Smolenice Castle – a sense of trust and a determination to “get it right” developed. The group was keen to hear the translations read aloud throughout the week and the final presentation gave it a sense of deep satisfaction.”

Participant biographies:

Artis Ostups is one of the most significant new voices in Latvian poetry. His first collection, Comrade Snow, was nominated for a major award and another award recognised him as the most promising new poet in Latvia. He is a postgraduate student of philosophy about to study at the university in Prague. His poems and prose poems concern landscape and memory.

Eva Luka is one of the most powerful and original voices in contemporary Slovak poetry. She has published three books of poetry so far and has won a number of national awards. She has lived and studied in Japan – her PhD was written in Japanese – and is also a fine translator. Her poetry has the resonance of myth, but myth grounded in experience. She hates similes – she says, nothing in life is “like” anything else: everything just is. Even the Ravenangel.

Alina Talybova is one of the most active participants in literary life in Azerbaijan. She is active within the writers‘ union, active as a journalist and active as an organiser of the annual festival, Literary Baku. She also works as an editor and as a translator from Azeri into English. Although her three poetry collections are written in Russian, her poetry shows a deep love and awareness of Azeri culture. Beneath the surface of modern Baku it is possible to hear the folk rhythms of an ancient culture coming through.

Hilari de Cara is one of the foremost writers in Catalan. He is not only a multi-award winning poet, he is also a novelist, an essayist, an editor and a wide-ranging translator. He lived for a number of years in New York, but Mallorca is his home. He is a Catalan by instinct and by conviction. His poetry is rich, suggestive, often erotic and troubling. The worlds he presents to us resonate with the debris of history and the liquidity of memory.

Gabriel Rosenstock lives in Dublin and writes in Irish Gaelic. He is a poet, essayist, haikuist and translator. He is committed to the periphery and to forging links between minority cultures and languages. His wide ranging translations from European and world writers have enriched and invigorated Irish Gaelic; for that reason, he is a widely published children’s writer also. His poetry is lyrical and vivid – infused with Irish myth and folklore, but his poetry is also open to influences from Japan – he is a recognised master of the haiku – and from India, which he knows well.

Tiziana Colusso is both a writer and a literary activist. For the past six years, she has served on the board of the European Writers Council. She is also editor of Formafluens – the International Literary Magazine. She has published prose fiction, fairy tales and journalism. Her poetry is both ambitious and playful, reflecting her interest in other cultures as well as her own.

Tom Pow: is one of Scotland’s foremost poets, winner of a number of awards. He has also written young adult novels, picture books, radio plays and a travel book about Peru. For the past five years he has been working on a project about Europe’s dying villages (In Another World – Among Europe’s Dying Villages), so he has thought a lot about villages and the roads that lead out of them.

Vishnu Khare is a poet, translator, literary and film critic, journalist and scriptwriter. Each of these he has pursued at the highest level. His work has been translated into numerous languages – and he is regularly invited everywhere to give readings of his works. He is a genuine Poet of the World. He writes in both Hindi and in English and has translated, into Hindi, individual collections, anthologies and Finnish and Estonian epics. He has been awarded the highest national prize for Hindi poetry in India and he has been decorated with the Knighthood of the White Rose by the President of Finland. His poetry can be philosophical, ironical and barbed, but it never loses its humour or its sympathy for the human condition.